Taiwan-based MediaTek traditionally plays second fiddle to silicon rival Qualcomm, but the company’s mobile chips are in scores of phones around the world. Figuring out the naming conventions and capabilities of these MediaTek processors can be a little daunting, though.
Don’t fret, as our MediaTek chipset guide tries to break things down for you. Read on for all the information you’ll need on MediaTek processors.
Flagship MediaTek 5G chipsets
MediaTek joined the 5G smartphone race in late 2019 when it took the wraps off the Dimensity 1000 processor. This marked the first flagship MediaTek chipset since 2017’s ill-fated Helio X series. It also launched the Dimensity 1000 Plus a few months later, which is to the standard chip what the Snapdragon 865 Plus is to the Snapdragon 865 (i.e. a minor upgrade).
The chipsets stand out from most other 5G processors by offered an integrated 5G modem, supporting sub-6Ghz networks and 5G+5G dual-SIM too. Neither the standard nor Plus chips offer mmWave support though, which means they’re not ideal for some carriers in the US and Japan.
|MediaTek Dimensity 1000/1000L/Plus||MediaTek Dimensity 1000C|
|GPU||Arm Mali-G77 MP9||Arm Mali-G57 MC5|
|Modem||Helio M70 5G|
4.7Gbps download, 2.5Gbps upload
|2.3Gbps download, 1.2Gbps upload|
|Machine learning||APU 3.0|
The Dimensity 1000 and 1000 Plus are no slouch in most other areas though, offering a powerful octa-core CPU layout featuring four Cortex-A77 cores and four Cortex-A55 cores. And this setup means CPU performance should be in the same ballpark as the Snapdragon 865, and theoretically better than the Kirin 990.
MediaTek’s GPU is more modest though, featuring the same Mali-G77 graphics as the Samsung Exynos 990 seen in the Galaxy S20 series. However, the MediaTek silicon doesn’t have as many graphics cores as the Exynos chipset, which means it should be less powerful than Samsung’s GPU in theory.
MediaTek was the first chipset designer to bring dedicated machine learning silicon to the mid-tier, and it’s continuing the ML push with the Dimensity 1000 and 1000 Plus. The new processor sports a six-core APU to better manage machine learning, divided into two heavy cores, three medium cores, and one light core.
Photography performance isn’t quite as impressive as the Snapdragon 865 family, but you’re still getting support for 80MP cameras (with multi-frame processing), five rear cameras, and 4K/60fps video. Don’t expect 8K recording or 108MP camera support just yet — a little disappointing when both Samsung and Qualcomm’s best silicon support these features.
The Dimensity 1000 and 1000 Plus seem to deliver a ton of CPU power, but expect them to lose out to rivals in terms of graphics performance and some camera features.
Otherwise, the Dimensity 1000 and 1000 Plus also offers Bluetooth 5.1, Wi-Fi 6, 90Hz refresh rates at QHD+, 120Hz at FHD+, and support for Google’s AV1 codec. The flagship processors were also joined by the Dimensity 1000L, which differs from the main SoC by offering lower clock speeds, according to MediaTek.
MediaTek also launched the Dimensity 1000C chipset in September, and it seems to be an upper mid-range chipset rather than a full-fledged flagship. The 1000C is essentially a hybrid of the Dimensity 1000 series’ flagship silicon and the Dimensity 820. You’ve got the flagship’s octa-core CPU layout here, featuring four Cortex-A77 and four Cortex-A55 cores for top-end CPU performance. But the GPU has seen a downgrade to the Dimensity 820’s mid-range Mali-G57 MP5 graphics, while the four-core APU is also a drop from the six-core machine learning silicon seen in the Dimensity 1000.
Unfortunately, the high-end Dimensity processors haven’t seen the same level of adoption as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 series. That’s a real shame, especially when the Snapdragon 865 series was reportedly more expensive than the Snapdragon 855 and Dimensity 1000 series.
By far the biggest win for the Dimensity series outside China is the T-Mobile LG Velvet, which features the Dimensity 1000C silicon. We’re expecting better CPU performance than the unlocked Velvet (powered by the Snapdragon 765G), but the jury is out on graphics performance.
Notable flagship phones:
Mid-range 5G chipsets
Mediatek also launched mid-range 5G SoCs this year, starting with the Dimensity 800. The processor is quite powerful on paper, featuring four Cortex-A76 CPU cores and four lightweight Cortex-A55 cores. This is a departure from arch-rival Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 765 series, which features two Cortex-A76 cores (plus six A55 cores).
Other noteworthy features include a Mali-G77 MP4 GPU, the Dimensity 1000’s Helio M70 5G modem (that means no mmWave), 90Hz support, a four-core APU for machine learning, and up to 64MP single-camera capture with multi-frame processing.
These aren’t the only mid-range 5G MediaTek chipsets launched this year, as the firm also delivered the Dimensity 820, Dimensity 800U, and Dimensity 720 processors in recent months. The former is a Dimensity 800 upgrade, featuring a Mali-G57 MP5 GPU, higher CPU clock speeds, and 5G+5G dual SIM. The Dimensity 800U, on the other hand, is essentially a Dimensity 800 variant, offering 5G+5G dual SIM but cutting back on the GPU front (Mali-G57 MC3).
Meanwhile, the Dimensity 720 dips below the 800 series in terms of capabilities, packing a Mali-G57 MC3 GPU and a less powerful octacore CPU design (2x Cortex-A76 rather than 4x Cortex-A76). It also tops out at a 90Hz refresh rate and lacks Wi-Fi 6 support.
|MediaTek Dimensity 800||MediaTek Dimensity 820||MediaTek Dimensity 720||MediaTek Dimensity 700||MediaTek Dimensity 800U|
|GPU||Arm Mali-G77 MP4||Arm Mali-G57 MC5||Arm Mali-G57 MC3||Arm Mali-G57 MC2||Arm Mali-G57 MC3|
|Machine learning||APU 3.0||APU 3.0||APU 3.0||N/A||APU 3.0|
The latest budget 5G chip from MediaTek is the Dimensity 700, and it has a lot in common with the earlier Dimensity 720. But the big difference here is in the GPU, as it offers more budget-focused Mali-G57 MC2 graphics. It also seems like the new chip lacks machine learning silicon. It’s not all bad though, as the Dimensity 700 sees slightly higher CPU clock speeds and dual-SIM 5G support.
The mid-range and budget Dimensity processors haven’t landed in as many high-profile phones as Qualcomm’s mid-range 5G silicon. But it’s still seen landed in a healthy number of phones.
MediaTek’s bread and butter isn’t in flagships though, as it’s a major player in mid-range segments and below. But its mid-range segment has been shaken up somewhat thanks to the arrival of a new chipset family.
MediaTek Helio G
The MediaTek Helio G series is the newest family of chips in the brand’s arsenal, focusing on gaming and pure performance in general. All of these chips sport the firm’s HyperEngine technology for smoother gaming performance.
The Helio G90 and G90T were the first chips in the series, packing an octa-core CPU (two Cortex-A76 cores plus six Cortex-A55 cores) and Mali-G76 quad-core graphics. This means you can expect great system and gaming performance on paper. In fact, our own testing revealed that the G90T-equipped Redmi Note 8 Pro edged out the Snapdragon 730-toting Redmi K20 in benchmarks.
Other Helio G90 series specs include 12nm designs, simultaneous 2.4Ghz/5Ghz WiFi connections, up to 10GB of RAM, 64MP camera support, and an APU for machine learning.
|MediaTek Helio G90/G90T/G95||MediaTek Helio G70/80/85|
|GPU||Mali-G76 3EEMC4||Mali-G52 MC2|
|Connectivity||Cat-12 LTE |
Up to 1Gbps downlink
Up to 300Mbps downlink
MediaTek followed up with the Helio G95 in September 2020, and it’s essentially a slightly upgraded Helio G90T. It mainly differs from the previous chipset by offering a 100Mhz clock speed boost to the GPU (from 800Mhz to 900Mhz).
Moving lower down the totem pole, we have the Helio G70 and G80/G85. They’re not as powerful as the above-mentioned chipsets but they still seem to offer great performance at this tier. The processors offer octa-core CPUs (two Cortex-A75 cores and six Cortex-A55 cores), Mali-G52 MC2 graphics, and support for 48MP cameras. In other words, they line up well with the likes of the Snapdragon 665 and 662.
The Helio G70 has found its way into the ~$130 Realme C3, while the Helio G80 has landed in the ~$160 Redmi 9. So those looking for a solid experience in the sub-$200 segment should definitely consider phones with the G70 or G80/G85 processor.
Helio P series
MediaTek’s mid-range to budget tier Helio P series has been around for ages, dating back to 2016’s Helio P10. This chip family has largely been usurped by the Helio G series, but the most capable members in this range right now are the Helio P90 and P95.
The P95 is essentially a mild upgrade to the P90 that we first saw at the end of 2018, and we really do stress the term “mild.” The two processors share the same octa-core CPU design (two Cortex-A75 and six Cortex-A55 cores), the same PowerVR GM 9446 GPU, and the same camera capabilities. In the case of the latter, that means 64MP sensor support, multi-frame noise reduction, and 4K recording.
In fact, the only major difference we can tell between the two chipsets is that the P95 now sports the company’s HyperEngine gaming enhancements. Either way, the processors also sport impressive machine learning hardware, such as an APU, and a dedicated AI Accelerator.
The Helio P65 is next on the totem-pole, launching in mid-2019. And it’s really a cross between the P9X series and the Helio G70/G80. That means a relatively powerful octa-core CPU (two Cortex-A75 cores and six Cortex-A55 cores), budget-tier Mali-G52 MC2 graphics, Bluetooth 5, and 48MP camera support.
Probably the biggest downside, however, is that the processor lacks dedicated AI silicon. So machine learning tasks (e.g. image recognition, machine vision, face recognition/unlock) will consume more juice than on the previously mentioned SoCs.
|Helio P95||Helio P90||Helio P60/P70||Helio P65|
|GPU||IMG PowerVR GM 9446||IMG PowerVR GM 9446||Mali-G72 MP3||Arm Mali-G52 MC2|
24MP+16MP dual (P60)
20MP+16MP dual (P70)
48MP snapshot (P70)
|Machine learning||APU 2.0||APU 2.0||APU 1.0||N/A|
MediaTek’s P60 and P70 are older and a little less capable than the Helio P65 in many ways, launching in 2018. These chips offer older CPU cores, the Mali-G72 MP3 GPU, and Bluetooth 4.2. Furthermore, the Helio P60 and P70 only have basic snapshot support for 48MP cameras, so you can’t expect multi-frame processing (e.g. HDR, night mode) at this resolution.
The P60 and P70 have one ace up their sleeve though, and that’s dedicated AI silicon. So tasks like face unlock, AI-powered photography, and other ML-related activities should be more efficient here. As for specific differences between the P60 and P70, the P70 simply has slightly faster CPU and GPU clock speeds, as well as a slightly more efficient AI processor.
In any event, the Helio P series has largely made way for the Helio G series. So we’re not expecting to see plenty more chips in this family.
MediaTek’s low-end processors
MediaTek has a reputation for delivering low-end chips for entry-level phones. It’s slowed down in this regard over the years in favor of the mid-range segment, but it still has a notable presence at the ~$100 tier.
The firm’s low-end offerings are characterized by featuring lightweight Cortex-A53 CPU cores only (no heavy-lifting cores here), basic graphical capabilities, and 60Hz refresh rate support at best. Don’t expect to see 4K recording or 5G here either.
MediaTek’s most recent low-end chips are the Helio G35 and G25. Despite being part of the gaming-focused G series, these aren’t suitable for anything more than extremely lightweight 3D and 2D games. The firm also has a few near-identical, older chips that still see plenty of adoption, namely the Helio P35, Helio P22, and Helio A25.
All of these processors sport octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU cores, low-end PowerVR GE8320 graphics, and efficient, 12nm designs. Camera capabilities are pretty modest too, with none of the chipsets supporting more than 25MP shooters at best (nevermind 48MP).
|Helio P35/G35||Helio P22/G25||Helio A25||Helio A22||Helio A20|
|CPU||8x Cortex-A53||8x Cortex-A53||8x Cortex-A53||4x Cortex-A53||4x Cortex-A53|
|GPU||IMG PowerVR GE8320||IMG PowerVR GE8320||IMG PowerVR GE8320||IMG PowerVR GE8320||IMG PowerVR GE8300|
Thought those processors were light on features and power? Then the Helio A22 and A20 might surprise you, cutting the CPU core count in half to just a quad-core Cortex-A53 setup. That means lag in system menus and the camera app isn’t out of the question at all.
These lowest of the low-end processors also offer similar entry-level PowerVR GPUs, display resolutions topping out at HD+, and modest camera credentials. But on the plus side, you’re getting Bluetooth 5 capabilities.
That’s about it for our MediaTek chipset guide! We’ll be updating this article periodically to add new chipsets from the Taiwanese silicon designer.